Monday, September 30, 2013

Anatomy of a Window

It all starts with the window.  Literally.  Your window is the first opportunity you have to make an impression on passersby.  I'm always amazed at retailers who don't give one thought to their window display or don't even have a window display.  If done well, it should make people stop, look, (hopefully) smile, and then head for the door.

I try to change my window every month.  As for the design, sometimes it's inspired by a color, new products, or the season/holiday.  Often, it's a combination of two or more of the above.  This year we seem to have an abundance of polka dots.....on scarves, bowls, mugs, and socks.....and I knew at some point they would find their way to the window. 
This window had to have an Autumn theme and I decided to play off our branch and make it look as though dots....rather than leaves....were falling.  How can you have a Fall window without pumpkins?  So the natural way to incorporate them was to dot them too. 
A 1" hole punch created all the dots.  The dot garland that hangs from the branch was created using taupe string and a combination of card stock dots and dots made with sticky back paper (Avery full sheet label paper).  The sticky back dots were applied to the pumpkins and smoothed down with a fingernail.  From there, it was just a matter of determining what color scarves and socks would take center stage.
I never want the window to be empty or in a state of flux very long, so all the logistics are worked out before the previous window is dismantled.  Having staged everything upfront, windows usually go up in less than thirty minutes.  This one garnered a "thumbs up" while it was in progress and another compliment about the polka dot pumpkins shortly after it was finished.  So, for the month of October, you may see leaves falling out your window, but we have dots falling inside ours.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

And Suddenly It Was Autumn

A couple weeks ago as I was writing up a purchase, the customer mentioned I hadn't written a new blog post since February.  Really?  Never! Could that actually be true?  Sadly it was.  Somewhere between ordering, inventorying, and working seven days a week the summer came and went.  And boy did it ever!  It was a great summer for us in the shop and we thank everyone for their incredible kindness and generosity!

It was lovely to hear so many summer residents and tourists exclaim "You're still here!  Thank you for not leaving!  You made it through the winter!"  Yes, we are.  No, we didn't.  And yes, we did.  It wasn't without a few bumps in the road, but all was forgotten when "hug and hello" season returned.  The sad thing about the summer here in Maine is that it's all too short.  Too quickly we go from "hug and hello" to "hug....get teary...and goodbye."

So here we the end of a wonderful summer.  We celebrated our first anniversary.  We've modified our business plan from being a year-round business to being one that only operates eight months out of the year.  And we've come up with a pretty exciting plan for handling the winter.  But before winter sets in, we still have what will hopefully be a wonderful Autumn filled with crisp days, stunning displays of magnificently colored foliage, and a few more "hugs and hellos" from last year's leaf peepers.

I can't believe it's taken me this long to post and I promise (in my best Scarlett O'Hara impression), as God is my witness, it won't happen again!  Enjoy the last remnants of summer and get the cider ready for Fall!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

NYIGF in the Rearview Mirror

It's hard to believe it's been two weeks since we returned from New York.  At this point, all the orders have been written, re-written, amended, perused, and submitted.  As a buyer, I'm not a "spur-of-the-moment" kind of gal.  I've found whenever I arrive at a booth without a game plan and start ordering willy-nilly I always regret it....and often change the order or cancel it all together.  I would much rather sit with the catalogues and price lists and work through things in my hotel room at night or after I get home.

So how did the show go?  Exciting.  Exhausting.  Bittersweet.  I've always loved trade shows.  Even when I was a designer and went to trade shows representing the companies I was designing for, I loved the energy and promise of a new collection.  Attending the Gift Show and buying for LUCKY HILL is just as exciting.  I always go with a plan, but similarly understand those ideas are fluid.  The conversation Dan and I had the first night at the Russian Vodka Room was quite different than the banter on the way back to Maine.  Things change.  When you start pairing up lines and seeing how they pan out some concepts just don't fit.  In a small shop, you have to make sure every line has a purpose and addresses a specific niche.

When I was a designer, I had a very clear image of my customer.  It wasn't just an age, figure type, or income bracket.  It was the whole package.  A lot of companies and retailers create a "customer" who acts as a constant reminder of who their target market is.  I have my LUCKY HILL customer in my head.  Is she a real customer.  Yes.  This is the first time I don't have a fictitious customer in my head when I go on a buying trip.  Will I ever say who she is?  Not a chance.  Will she buy everything I bring in?  Probably not,  but she is my buying barometer.

So why did I say the show was bittersweet?  I'm so incredibly excited about some of the lines and new product categories we're bringing in it drives me crazy that they won't show up for a few months.  When I had my store in Pennsylvania, I would have started bringing the new products in pronto....Valentine's Day was always right around the corner from the January show and the August show was the lead-in for the Fall and Holiday shopping season.  I have accepted the fact I have a shop in a seasonal community, but it will never sit well with me.  I'm never happier than I am when the shop is a buzz and people are happily finding beautiful products they love and can't live without.  So for now I'll gaze out the window looking at piles of snow and longing for the day when the Fed Ex man will start delivering packages containing treasures from all around of the globe.

P.S-- New York was FABULOUS!!!!!  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Next Stop.....New York!

It's hard to believe Christmas was less than a month ago.  The numbers have been tallied, inventories taken, and decorations stowed away.  So now what?  New York, baby!  We're heading to the Gift Show to gear up for summer.  Yes....summer.

The past few months of living in a seasonal community have been a definite learning curve.  Most retail shops around the country see a significant drop in business after the holidays as we did at our previous shop, Grandiflora, but being in a remote coastal town in Maine gives the "slow season" a whole new meaning.  I now understand why most businesses in town close from October to May.  While that goes against everything "business" in my head, but I'm starting to see their reasoning.

Over the course of my life, summer has always been my least favorite season.  My order of preference had been winter, fall, spring, summer.  And then we moved to Castine and opened a store.  Now the only season that matters is SUMMER.  Period.  Okay....throw in the shoulder season that starts Memorial Day and ends on Columbus Day and a twinkle at Christmas.  But in the words of Porky Pig....."Th-th-th-that's all, folks!"

While most people probably thought we would most mind the snow and cold this winter, our pining away for summer really has nothing to do with temperature and more to do with missing the hustle and bustle of the summer residents and tourists.  I long to have the door open and see everyone strolling down to Bah's for breakfast, waving and wishing us a "Good Morning" as they pass.  Until then, I'll keep myself happily busy reviewing lines, determining orders, evaluating displays, and knitting.

First step toward summer?  The New York International Gift Fair which starts this Saturday.  It's been eight years since Dan and I attended the show and I can't wait to set foot in Javits again.  I have list in hand of lines I'm pondering, but know we'll be up to our ears in catalogs by the time we pile back in the car on Wednesday morning to make the trek back to Maine.

To say we're not excited about being back in a city would be an understatement of gargantuan proportion.  Some of the things we're most looking forward to?  The Russian Vodka Room, being in the same zip code as a Michael Kors boutique, and pastrami sandwiches (Dan only).  We're also looking forward to staying at Yotel.  Only four blocks to the convention center, it was far more than proximity to Javits that appealed to us.  Hopefully it won't disappoint and I'll be sure to post photos and more details after we arrive.